SN 1987A as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument

An image of the remnants of supernova 1987A (SN 1987A) captured by the James Webb Space Telescope caught new details and never-before-seen structures such as the central one, which has a shape like a keyhole, and near it crescent-shaped formations. The NIRCam instrument proves again that it can see where other instruments have seen little or nothing in the decades since the supernova was detected. The aim is always to understand what happens in the years following a supernova to what remains of the star that exploded and to the materials ejected into interstellar space.

The Ring Nebula as seen by MIRI (Image ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Barlow, N. Cox, R. Wesson)

Just a couple of weeks after the publication of an image of the Ring Nebula, one of the most iconic planetary nebulae, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument, another image arrived, this time, captured by the MIRI instrument. Several filters were used to capture the emissions at various wavelengths in the mid-infrared to offer details that complement those offered by the NIRCam. The new details also indicate the presence of various compounds and about ten concentric arcs just beyond the outer edge of the main ring. These new results offer new insights into the processes taking place in the last stages of a star’s life and, in this case, the interaction with a possible companion.

On the left, the galaxy cluster WHL0137-08 and in the inset, the galaxy nicknamed the Sunrise Arc in its distorted form, which hosts the star Earendel

Two articles, one published in “The Astrophysical Journal” and one in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters”, report various aspects of a study of Earendel, the most distant single known star. Two teams of researchers with several members in common used observations conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope to obtain new details of this star, which even such a powerful instrument could only detect thanks to a gravitational lens. Officially cataloged as WHL0137-LS, the new study turns out to be a class B blue giant, much more massive than the Sun. Webb’s observations also reveal a luminous component that could belong to a less massive companion and not even the Hubble Space Telescope was able to detect.

The Ring Nebula (Image NASA/ESA/CSA/The University of Manchester)

An image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the Ring Nebula, one of the most iconic planetary nebulae, in new details that reveal the complexity of the processes taking place during the last phase of the life of a small to medium star thanks to the NIRCam (Near Infrared Camera) instrument’s ability to detect infrareds. A team of researchers led by Mike Barlow of UCL (University College London) is studying the Ring Nebula as a target of the JWST Ring Nebula Project, of which Barlow is the lead scientist. The study is still ongoing, but Barlow stated that Webb’s high-resolution images not only show details of the expanding nebula’s shell but also reveal the inner region around the central white dwarf with exquisite clarity.

The Herbig-Haro 46/47 object

An image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope portrays Herbig-Haro 46/47, or simply HH 46/47, a nebula of ionized gas that emits a faint light in which two lobes are very bright instead. The two numbers are due to the fact that there are two young stars still growing in the middle of a disk of gas and dust. Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument captured details of that area never seen before. The nebula is invisible at optical frequencies and is blue at infrared. The most spectacular part is the one characteristic of the Herbig-Haro objects with the ionized stellar winds forming two lobes visible in the image in orange hues.